Compact refrigerators provide reliable cooling for small quantities of food and drink. Dimensions can vary considerably, but these fridges are typically between 18 and 25 inches wide and may accommodate anywhere from 1.5 to 7 cubic feet. Occasionally, larger models reach nearly 10 cubic feet.
Compact fridges fall into several subcategories, including:
- Cube fridges. As the smallest compact refrigerators, cube fridges can rarely hold more than a few cans of soda. Their diminutive, cube-like shape allows them to fit within the smallest spaces imaginable.
- Mini fridges. Often found in dorm rooms, mini fridges represent the standard that comes to mind when most people picture compact fridges. Inexpensive and versatile, they can store a few days’ worth of snacks or beverages.
- Apartment-sized fridges. Larger than a conventional compact fridge, apartment-sized fridges can store bulkier items that might not fit in cube or mini fridges. They’re usually similar in height to standard refrigerators but also far narrower.
Things To Look for in Compact Fridges
When selecting a compact refrigerator, size and capacity should be your chief considerations. This type of fridge should be small enough to fit in tight spaces but large enough to accommodate your desired food items.
How much storage space is needed will vary from one person to the next. A dorm room or basement space may not need more than a few soda cans. Apartment dwellers, however, might use a compact model as their main fridge.
Likewise, some people may worry about how a particular fridge will fit into an existing layout, but this isn’t a huge concern for others. Before selecting a compact fridge, think carefully about what you want and how various dimensions or features might fit into that vision.
Get the Most Food Storage Options With Adjustable Shelves
Flexibility is key for compact fridges, which can often hold far more than their small appearance suggests. Sometimes, it’s not necessary to seek a larger capacity.
Depending on your storage preferences, you may be able to store tall or bulky products simply by adjusting the shelves. Removable shelves can be strategically placed according to what you want to keep in the fridge at any given time. Although not as easy to adjust, in-door storage also provides excellent opportunities for storing unusually shaped items.
Keep the Temperature at the Right Level for Food Safety With Adjustable Thermostat Controls
Temperature control can be surprisingly tricky when storing food in a compact refrigerator. Some models don’t provide nearly as much oversight as users would like. Many, however, come with adjustable thermostat controls that can be dialed up or down as needed.
Depending on the fridge model, the dial for adjusting the thermostat may be marked with levels from 1 to 5 or 1 to 7, with higher numbers representing warmer settings. In most situations, numbers in the middle range — 3 or 4, for example — will provide the most reliable cooling.
Ask Yourself if You Need a Freezer Compartment for Frozen Foods
Not all compact refrigerators come with freezer sections — and those that do sometimes fail to produce as frosty of a chill as people desire. If your compact fridge will be used primarily for storing drinks or simple snacks, a freezer compartment might not be necessary.
If you do prefer access to a mini refrigerator freezer, be prepared to select one of these main options:
- Built-in freezers. A convenient mini fridge with freezer solution for modest chilling needs, built-in freezers are compartments situated within the main fridge. But keep in mind that these aren’t nearly as effective for cooling as designs that keep the freezer section separate.
- Separate freezers. This setup can be helpful when you need the cooling power of a conventional freezer but are short on space. Typically, the separate freezer compartment sits at the top of the compact fridge. This may occupy considerably more space than compact fridges with built-in freezers — or no freezers at all.
In addition to freezer compartments, many small refrigerators include dedicated drawers meant to store specific types of food. For example, crisper drawers provide a slightly more humid environment than the fridge’s standard shelves. This is an ideal location for storing fruits and vegetables.
Maximize Versatility With Reversible Doors
Capable of swinging open to the right or left, reversible doors maximize limited space. This is an excellent option if you eventually need to move your small fridge to a new location and are eager to avoid bumping the door against cabinets or walls. Reversible hinges are also handy for lefties, who often find standard fridge doors cumbersome to open and close.
Get the Most Cubic Feet of Space for Your Available Floor Space
While the various features highlighted above can be helpful, your main goal should be to maximize storage space without worrying about excess bulk. This can be accomplished, to an extent, with the aforementioned adjustable shelves — but it’s also essential to look carefully at fridge specifications.
Sometimes, fridges that appear sizable accommodate far fewer items than anticipated. Special compartments that seem to improve convenience may occupy precious space.
Clarify early on whether you’re willing to sacrifice height for width or depth — or vice versa. Taller fridges can be helpful when minimal floor space is available, but many people prefer compact fridges that fit easily beneath counters.
Get the Best Energy Efficiency With Energy Star Certified Mini Fridges
When in doubt, opt for Energy Star certified products. This helps you lead a green lifestyle while minimizing the cost of running an extra fridge. Keep in mind that while this designation rules out the most environmentally harmful fridges, some certified appliances aren’t as eco-friendly as others.
Be prepared to do additional research to feel confident that your compact fridge helps you minimize your carbon footprint. Pay attention to the type of coolant used in each model. When possible, R600a is preferable to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) or hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which are still found in some Energy Star fridges.
Find the Right Compact Mini Fridge for You
If you want to store a variety of foods and beverages in a small space, opt for a mini fridge — such as the Galanz GLR46TBKER 4.6-Cu. Ft. Retro Mini Fridge — with plenty of compartments and a separate freezer. If you need something extra small and simple, consider the Midea WHS-65LB1 1.6-Cu. Ft. Compact Single Reversible Door Refrigerator or the Galanz GL27BK 2.7-Cu. Ft. Mini Fridge.
A wide array of compact refrigerators can keep your snacks and drinks perfectly cool. With so many options available, you should have no trouble finding a fantastic food storage solution to meet your unique needs.
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